The red cedar tree (Toona australis) pictured here, was one of the few that remained standing when I purchased this land in the 70s. Now there are hundreds if not 1000s growing or sprouting through-out the property.
The red cedar getters, as they were called, lived in these valleys for weeks on end as they felled what was known then as red gold. The cutters were the ones who did the real dangerous work and who received the lowest return for their risk and hard physical labour. Their living conditions were basic and harsh, shelter being damp huts where they often endured long periods of rain. I can not find out what their diets consisted of.
Many men were killed on the job. Bullock teams were used along the steep ridges and gullies to pull the huge logs to the creeks edge. Red cedar logs were easier to transport to the coast due to them being able to float high in water. The creeks in flood times were a huge asset. As I tramped over this land with all of its discomfort, (leeches, ticks, razor sharp vines and giant stinging trees) I live here in comfort compared to those men.
In Germaine Greer’s WHITE BEECH, she writes that the red cedar is not actually a cedar but a mahogany, a member of one of the seven genera in the MELIACEAE family. Several decades of argument between botanists continues, where to place the Australian red cedar. Regardless of its movable classification, the tree was almost wiped out in our valleys, to build our early cities and to export from where the beautiful colour of its timber enhanced the grand homes in the UK and Ireland.
Hundreds of this tree’s seedlings I have transplanted throughout the property. Easy to transplant during the wet season the survival rates of the transplants are at least 50%.